Real Estate

Beijing bans real estate ads promoting high returns and good feng shui in latest bid to cool property market

A man walking in front of a real estate agent's window in Shanghai.
Peter Parks | AFP | Getty Images

Property websites in Beijing have become the latest targets of China's continued efforts to clamp down on ballooning property prices under new restrictions which ban portals from promoting real estate investments.

The sites have been given until midnight Thursday to take down overtly promotional language, such as claims of high returns or good feng shui, as government officials in the capital move to deflect a housing bubble.

Reports from Chinese state news agency Xinhua claim that 15 property portals were targeted under the restrictions after authorities claimed that they broke real estate advertisement restrictions.

The new rules will forbid promises of "fend shui and other feudal superstitions" and "appreciation on investment returns", Xinhua noted.

The new rules are the latest in a run of restrictions aimed at cooling surging property prices which risk hurting the economy.

An aerial view of a large housing complex in Shanghai, China
In Pictures Ltd. | Corbis | Getty Images

China's property market accounts for around one-fifth of the country's gross domestic product and is often seen as an indicator of the direction of travel for other sectors, particularly construction and commodities.

"I think the key thing to look out for in China this year is going to be the property sector, as it always is," Seb Lewis, content director for China at S&P Global Platts, told CNBC Wednesday.

"Last year was really strong, very good strong house prices, and I think we're going to see those house prices contained by the government via policy responses, which is going to generally constrain growth, especially in the commodities sector," he continued.

Chinese authorities have been issuing further restrictions this year, including increasing minimum down payments on second homes and curtailing individual mortgage loans at 25 years.

Hong Kong followed suit earlier this week, announcing that it would curb purchases of second homes in an effort to cool sky-high prices, which have jumped 364 percent since 2003. The move reflects the growing influence of China on the former British colony after one of its picks, Carrie Lam, was elected as head of the city last month.

Why is Hong Kong housing so expensive?
Why is Hong Kong housing so expensive?

Beijing's latest move is important not only for quelling fears over a housing bubble, but also for preventing a mass exodus of young people who feel priced out of the country's big cities. Authorities have been introducing new subsidized housing to non-local residents, as well as and earmarking new land for development, in an attempt to make them reconsider moving away from large cities.

However, Lewis warns that China's big cities are just the start of its property woes, arguing that restrictions are likely to ripple out across the country.

"(Big cities) really only represent 5-7 percent of total property. The smaller cities have been really strong and I think as we go through the year the government's going to be clamping down on that."

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